Antiqua Print Gallery Île Saint-Paul
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Île Saint-Paul

Île Saint-Paul (St. Paul Island) is an island forming part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the Indian Ocean, with an area of 6 km² (2.3 sq mi). It is located about 85 km (53 mi) southwest of the larger Île Amsterdam, and 3,000 km (1,900 mi) south of Réunion. During sailing ship days captains would occasionally use the island as a check on their navigation before heading north. A scientific research cabin on the island is used for scientific or ecological short campaigns, but there is no permanent population.
Along with Île Amsterdam, it is part of the district of the Overseas Territory of the Southern and Antarctic French Lands (TAAF), under the authority of a senior administrator on Réunion.
Île Saint-Paul is one of three islands which is an antipode of the United States, corresponding to Firstview, Colorado. The other two antipodes are Île Amsterdam and Kerguelen Island.

Description

Île Saint-Paul is triangular in shape, and measures no more than 3 mi (4.8 km) at its widest. It is the top of an inactive volcano, and is rocky with steep cliffs on the east side. The thin stretch of rock that used to close off the crater collapsed in 1780, admitting the sea through a 100 m (330 ft) channel; the entrance is only a few meters deep, thus allowing only very small ships or boats to enter the crater itself. The interior basin, 1 km (0.62 mi) wide and 50 m (160 ft) deep, is surrounded by steep walls up to 270 m (890 ft) high. There are active thermal springs.

History

Île Saint-Paul was first discovered in 1559 by Portuguese sailors and there were further sightings of the island through the 17th century. The first detailed description of it (and possibly the first landing) was by William De Vlamingh in 1696. The first good map of the island was not drawn up until 1857, when the Austrian training ship Novara spent a fortnight sailing in front of it.
In 1871 a British troop transport, HMS Megaera, was wrecked on the island. Most of the 400 persons on board had to remain upwards of three months before being taken off.
In 1874 a French astronomical mission spent two months on the island observing the transit of Venus; geologist Charles Vélain took the opportunity to make a significant geological survey of the island.
In 1889 Charles Lightoller, who was later to become famous as the Second Mate of the RMS Titanic, was shipwrecked here for eight days when the sailing barque Holt Hill ran aground. He describes the shipwreck and the island in his autobiography, Titanic and Other Ships. Lightoller speculated that pirates may have used the island and their treasure could be buried in its caves. There is also speculation that officers from the German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis hid treasure near the entrance of the bay during World War II.
Île Saint-Paul was claimed by France in 1893.
In 1928, an ill-fated spiny lobster cannery was established on Île Saint-Paul. Seven employees of the cannery were abandoned to their fate on the island when the company went bankrupt in 1931; they later came to be known as Les Oubliés de Saint-Paul ("the forgotten ones of St. Paul"). Five died; the two survivors were finally rescued in 1934.

(Source Wikipedia)